Message in an (architectural) bottle

typed for your pleasure on 9 July 2007, at 12.00 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Loomer’ by My bloody valentine

So I’ve got a portable hard drive — I’ve got a couple, actually, but the one I was rooting through in this instance is specifically for various and sundry non-Synthetik pics extracted from the Interonet — and I’d run across this pic here, for the first time in months:

It’s an oekaki that someone drew of an actual building in Japan. I’ve seen photos of it before in books, but unfortunately, I’ve no idea what it’s called. Cos obviously, I’m looking at that and saying to myself, ‘man, that’d make a fine entry for the “This was the Future” series’.
So if anyone happens to know what this building is called, or anything about it, please leave a comment, or drop me a line at pulsedemon [at] gmail [dot] com, and you’ll definitely be credited. Your help is appreciated!

この建物が示されるものをだれでも知っているか。 だれでも私に告げることができたら pulsedemon [at] gmail [dot] com に電子メールを送りなさい。 あなたの助けは認められる!

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typed for your pleasure on 15 March 2007, at 12.06 am

Sdtrk: ‘Spectre’ by NON

Soviet Russia! Home of old-school Communism, the Lada series of automobiles, and Yakov Smirnoff-style jokes. (‘In Soviet Russia, Russia Soviets you!‘ Etc) Also, Russia is host to a few buildings that definitely slot nicely into the ‘This was the Future’ series. You’ve got the sturdy-in-appearance-only Dom Sovietov, you’ve got the Melnikov House Studio (saving that one for an upcoming instalment), and then there are these lovely Brutalist wet dreams.

‘State Department for traffic’ building, Tbilis, Georgia

Unfortunately, much like when I’d linked to Ostmoderne, info in English for these buildings is bloody hard to come by. Do I look like I can read Cyrillic? Do I??

The States could definitely use more buildings after that fashion. Hell, every country could use more buildings after that fashion. But I would say that.
Do svidanya, especially to William Bennett, whose blog I originally found this site on, and Happy Ides of March!

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typed for your pleasure on 1 January 2007, at 7.09 pm

Finally, a new one!
Sdtrk: ‘Don’t drag no more’ by Susan Lynn

Well, well, well, if it isn’t a structure by Mr ‘Machine for living’, Le Corbusier. This would be Villa Savoye, located in Poissy, France, and completed in 1929. In fact, this would be the primary example of his whole ‘machine for living’ aesthetic.

The Villa Savoye was designed as a weekend country house and is situated just outside of the small village of Poissy in a meadow which was originally surrounded by trees. The polychromatic interior contrasts with the primarily white exterior. Vertical circulation is facilitated by ramps as well as stairs. The house fell into ruin during World War Two but has since been restored and is open for viewing.
quote taken from this site

One of the coolest and most forward-thinking aspects of Villa Savoye is that the garage is integrated into the structure itself. What would occur is that you would drive along the paved section up to the house, and your vehicle would follow the curve established by the ground floor. Le Corbusier knew what he was doing, as that ground floor curve was the exact turning radius of an automobile — some sources say the 1927 Citroën, others say it was the 1929 Voisin.

Other ace features would be the open-plan layout, the central spiral staircase, windows practically everywhere, and a ramp leading to an open-air roof garden. Quite innovative, especially for the late Twenties. Not counting the Maison de Verre, of course

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typed for your pleasure on 13 October 2006, at 2.55 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Something sends me to sleep’ by Felt

Not actually from the Sixties, merely created with Sixties style in mind, this hot little number is the Hotel Everland, created by Sabina Long and Daniel Baumann, a tag team of Swiss artists. It’s a traveling hotel / art installation!

Everland is a Hotel with only one room. It includes a bathroom deluxe, a king-size bed and a lounge. The bounteous dimensioned room represents the subjective dream of a hotel: the architecture, the playful details, as well as the request to steal the golden embroidered bath towels. All Everland guests are partaking in the project. [..]

In September 2007 Hotel Everland moves on to Paris where it will be installed on the roof of Palais de Tokyo. It will also be exhibited for one year and run as a hotel, but this time with a view on the Eiffel Tower.

It’s equipped with a mini bar, WiFi, iPod Airtunes, and a turntable as well. (What, no Cd player?) Plus, you get a really ace view of whatever area you happen to book the hotel in.

I have to say, I’m really digging the repetition of that ‘curved rectangles’ motif — it’s in the wall lamps, the doorway to the bathroom, the shelving, and in the structure itself. Between the decor and the intimacy of the space, it’s like a cross between a ski chalet, and an apartment at Nakagin capsule tower. Very fab!

Also, Happy Friday 13 October! That’s a rare confluence, so do something interesting with your day

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typed for your pleasure on 30 September 2006, at 11.39 am

Sdtrk: ‘Young and insane’ by Magnetic fields

As much as I despise maths and mathematics — it’s common knowledge that unchecked use of mathematics will one day obliterate the Universe — I have to say, I’m rather impressed with the ingenuity behind Curt Herzstark’s Curta mechanical calculator.

The Curta was a small, hand-cranked mechanical calculator introduced in 1948. It had a brilliantly compact design, a small cylinder that fit in the palm of the hand. It could be used to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and with more difficulty square roots and other operations. [..]

The Curta was invented by Curt Herzstark while he was a prisoner in the Buchenwald concentration camp. Herzstark survived the camp, and following the end of WWII he completed and perfected the design. They were made in Liechtenstein by Contina AG Mauren. They were widely considered the best portable calculators available, until they were displaced by electronic calculators in the 1970s. [..]

The Curta was affectionately known as the “Pepper Grinder” due to its shape and means of operation. It would literally grind out answers.
quoted from this article

Operating the device, which I always thought looked a bit like a hand grenade, involves swiveling the crank, rotating the ring, sliding the levers along the side into place, and a few other processes. There’s an article that details its operation here, and once you’re fully debriefed on that, you can give it a go yourself with the Curta Flash simulator. As it’s only a simulator, you won’t have to worry about making a tragic mistake, so go crazy!

Obviously, I don’t completely understand how it works, as math confounds me. But you can’t say that the Curta calculator isn’t a beautiful machine, and is pretty high-tech for the time period it came from. If Alan Moore ever gets round to making a volume of ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ set during the late Forties or early Fifties, I’d be highly surprised if he didn’t have a character use one at some point.

Asking prices for used Curtas on eBay usually start at $250 USD. That kinda threw a bucket of ice water over everything, didn’t it?

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typed for your pleasure on 17 September 2006, at 11.45 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Bel air’ by Can

This is La Vallée 70, somewhere in France. The top section holds the kitchen and living room, and there seems to be at least four colour-coded compartmentalised rooms beneath, and below that, there’s an indoor swimming pool. The furniture and accessories are appropriately 20th century Modern, and it’s built into the side of a hill that overlooks a small stream.
Also notable: the entire residence looks to be made of 100% pure Awesome.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, that certainly holds true for this sexy action-packed instalment of ‘This was the Future’, cos I can’t copy any of the text, as not only is it all in French (pronounced ‘Frawnsh’), but the site’s all Flash. A pox on you, webdesigners! I’m sure these screencapped pics will pique your interest, in lieu of an actual article…

Something this sexy doesn’t need words, anyway — it’s self-descriptive. Dibs on the Violet Room!

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typed for your pleasure on 23 August 2006, at 7.15 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Do or die’ by the Human League

There are pretty much two styles of Sixties architecture that make me come over all frothy: there’s the utopian, futuristic style of a vintage Space age vision (Montreal’s Expo ’67, Villa Spies), and then there’s the grim dystopian style of what we were given instead (Trellick tower). I have to say that I love them both equally. If I were to compare them to films that I dig, on the one hand you have ‘Barbarella’, and on the other, you’ve got ‘Alphaville’. In fact, ‘Alphaville’ has a lot of rather ace buildings in it, but I’m certain finding particular names and backgrounds in English for any of them would be like looking for a needle placed gently somewhere on the dark side of the moon. However, it’s always a joy being able to present information about the buildings that I like — it’s a small victory, especially after sifting through all that Interweb. And you know I get easily distracted. So tonight, you get a fine example of dystopia, in the shape of the housing developments of Alexandra road, designed by Neave Brown in 1969.

A community center that includes a school, reception center, maintenance facilities and the heating plant mark the entrance to the site from London Road to the west and open to the park areas. The lower buildings contain maisonettes with shared access, terraces, and gardens. Maisonettes also occupy the top two levels of the large slab with entrance from a continuous gallery at the 7th floor.

Alexandra road is a pretty good example of the Brutalist style that was prevalent during the late Fifties and Sixties — you’ve got fab structures such as Brunswick centre, the Tricorn shopcentre, and Alton west estate, among several others. As stated, Alexandra road Housing is Brutalism’s take on the old Victorian era style of terraced housing; vast rows of homes that are built shoulder-to-shoulder, sharing adjacent walls. The apparent lack of space makes it look a wee bit grim on first glance, but there’s a certain romanticism about them — ever see ‘Coronation street’? Well, these apartments would be Coronation street 2099.

Still in use to this day, the clean and well-defined lines of this distinctive housing project only falls short in one respect — it failed to inspire more architects to repeat the style elsewhere. I suppose that makes Alexandra road Housing that much more special

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